Unprotected Storage of Credentials

Storing a password in plaintext may result in a system compromise.


Description

Password management issues occur when a password is stored in plaintext in an application's properties or configuration file. Storing a plaintext password in a configuration file allows anyone who can read the file access to the password-protected resource.

Demonstrations

The following examples help to illustrate the nature of this weakness and describe methods or techniques which can be used to mitigate the risk.

Note that the examples here are by no means exhaustive and any given weakness may have many subtle varieties, each of which may require different detection methods or runtime controls.

Example One

The following code reads a password from a properties file and uses the password to connect to a database.

...
Properties prop = new Properties();
prop.load(new FileInputStream("config.properties"));
String password = prop.getProperty("password");
DriverManager.getConnection(url, usr, password);
...

This code will run successfully, but anyone who has access to config.properties can read the value of password. If a devious employee has access to this information, they can use it to break into the system.

Example Two

The following code reads a password from the registry and uses the password to create a new network credential.

...
String password = regKey.GetValue(passKey).toString();
NetworkCredential netCred = new NetworkCredential(username,password,domain);
...

This code will run successfully, but anyone who has access to the registry key used to store the password can read the value of password. If a devious employee has access to this information, they can use it to break into the system

Example Three

The following examples show a portion of properties and configuration files for Java and ASP.NET applications. The files include username and password information but they are stored in plaintext.

This Java example shows a properties file with a plaintext username / password pair.

# Java Web App ResourceBundle properties file
...
webapp.ldap.username=secretUsername
webapp.ldap.password=secretPassword
...

The following example shows a portion of a configuration file for an ASP.Net application. This configuration file includes username and password information for a connection to a database but the pair is stored in plaintext.

...
<connectionStrings>
  <add name="ud_DEV" connectionString="connectDB=uDB; uid=db2admin; pwd=password; dbalias=uDB;" providerName="System.Data.Odbc" />
</connectionStrings>
...

Username and password information should not be included in a configuration file or a properties file in plaintext as this will allow anyone who can read the file access to the resource. If possible, encrypt this information and avoid CWE-260 and CWE-13.

See Also

OWASP Top Ten 2017 Category A2 - Broken Authentication

Weaknesses in this category are related to the A2 category in the OWASP Top Ten 2017.

Encrypt Data

Weaknesses in this category are related to the design and architecture of data confidentiality in a system. Frequently these deal with the use of encryption libraries....

SFP Secondary Cluster: Exposed Data

This category identifies Software Fault Patterns (SFPs) within the Exposed Data cluster (SFP23).

Comprehensive CWE Dictionary

This view (slice) covers all the elements in CWE.

Weaknesses Introduced During Design

This view (slice) lists weaknesses that can be introduced during design.

Weakness Base Elements

This view (slice) displays only weakness base elements.


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